I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

When you just can't

It's when you can't do something when you miss it the most and when you notice it the most.

Right now, I can't run.

And it sucks.

On my way to school, I saw people jogging this way and that. They looked so carefree, that they were just going for a run. And they probably were.

It's just that I can't.

And this is when running would help out the most - it's such an amazing stress reliever. (The bike just doesn't do it for me.) With grad school and the start of another year of teaching, I've found myself in a funk. I sound and look fine on the outside, but I feel like I'm (at least on the inside) in this weird state of a mix of confusion, jealousy, stress, and lack of confidence.

I'll tell you one thing, though. It's making me realize that I can't depend on myself. I won't be able to get myself out of this one without help. (I am going to a running specialist/podiatrist next week, so I'm crossing my fingers that it's at least a start.) And I'm trying to pray more. And breathe more. And not take things personally. And focus on others first.

I know everything will work out, and I know there are people out there with far more going on in their lives than my small injury. I am grateful that this is the first time I've ever really dealt with an injury like this, and I'm grateful for friends and colleagues who have advice to offer in this area. I'm surrounded by good people, I know that. So, in some sense, it makes the pain a little easier to bear.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Just checking in

Week one is in the books, for teaching and for student-ing. (Yeah, I just used student as a verb. It's fine.)

To say it flew by is an understatement. Makes me think the rest of this year is going to be a blur. The rollercoaster has started, my friends. Zoom. Zoom.

I apologize ahead of time if I fall off the planet with my lack of posting on this blog. Trust me when I say the posts I am putting elsewhere are making up for my brevity and absence here.

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead. Just like that, September is here. Hellooooooooo football season!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Time and Accountability

Last Advent I got up 15 minutes earlier each day to pray with the daily Scripture. Some days that meant getting up at 4:15 (if I was going to the gym super early), and it was worth it.

But after Advent ended and Christmas came and went, I let that routine slide.

Let's just say it hasn't been so great in my prayer life since then. I tried to start the routine up again during Lent, but I found myself being lazy and making excuses. I was missing my accountability factor.

Lucky for me, one of my online grad school classes this semester is taking me and my class to task and challenging us to be more consistent in prayer. It's one thing to say you're going to do something and a completely different thing to actually do that which you say you're committed to do. So I am trying again. It's time to get back in step with God.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A simple poem for my ninth year

Year nine of teaching -
Similar to years past, yet different.
No two years are the same,
All students change.

Who are these students?
What are their stories?
What do they need?
How can I bring them closer to God?

How many sleepless nights
will I spend worried about the classroom,
unsure about the data and assessments,
second guessing the time I spend or topics we cover?

I never feel like I've given enough,
yet each day I dig deeper than before.
I believe that God is in all children
and that all children can learn, just at different rates.

So, this is year nine.
My heart has grown,
my teacher toolbox is ever-expanding.
My students ground me and keep me humble.

This is failing.
And getting up. Again.
This is striving to love like God loves.
This is the start of another year.
This is my chance to say YES to God.
This is teaching in Catholic education.

I'm ready.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Preparation Time is Here!

Summer's officially over. #Bummer

But my classroom is coming along - check it out!

my bookshelf (and reminders of RLP)

Going to gain significant desk space when they switch us over to Macbooks as our desktops...

My classroom library is overflowing!

These book sets found a new home with the LA teacher next door - more cabinet space!

Feeling the ND theme this year - RLP is getting to me...

my "special" picture books

Excited to focus on prayer and the Saints this year!

Turn in bins - I labeled them after this picture was taken...

I commissioned my sister to paint this. #winning

We start back on Monday full force, full faculty. I'm excited to see everyone and get things started. (I always hate the in-between/waiting phase the most!)

Praying for all teachers as they start (or, in some cases, already started) these next few weeks. Let's have a great school year!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Did you know Mary unties knots?

I just finished a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, but it wasn't a novena in the typical sense. Yes, it took nine days. But each day had a special reflection from the places of Pope Francis's visit to the Holy Land that was put into a book (that I happily stumbled upon in the Notre Dame bookstore this summer):

It was a unique and special experience because I was able to learn more about this title of Mary, pray the Rosary with focused intentions daily, and think back on the places I was able to visit in the Holy Land two summers ago (and how the author related her experience in these spaces to her devotion/understanding of Mary's role in our lives)...

the Church of All Nations (site of the Agony in the Garden)...

the Western Wall (we didn't realize at the time you are not supposed to turn your back on it)...

Shepherds' Field (site of angel appearance to shepherds to announce Christ's birth)...

the Jordan River (site of Jesus' baptism)...

the stone of unction (in the Holy Sepulchre)...

Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum)

All of our lives are full of knots and tangles (jealousy, pride, etc.), some visible to others and some invisible. It's hard to work through these knots by ourselves. Mary wants to help us untie them. We need to let go so she can.

Coincidentally, I was experiencing trouble with a knotted necklace chain about midway through my novena. As I struggled to untie the chain, I couldn't help but realize that the tighter I pulled and tried to control the knot, the more unmanageable it became. When I had the help of a needle and some light (and when I lightened my grip a little), I was able to get the knot undone. Needless to say, I was struck by this tangible example of undoing knots!

It's safe to say that prayer (especially to our Blessed Mother) helps us in this way too. I fully believe that we need to let go, offer up our "knots," and watch Mary work in our lives.


On another note, one that is bittersweet, summer vacation came to a conclusion today, but not before I had the chance to see some friendly faces either living in or stopping through Michigan:

one of my ACE housemates

a friend from during my ACE time in AZ

friends from ACE whose wedding we attended this past March
These visits were the perfect end to the vacation. ACE brought so many incredible people into my life, and for that I am more grateful than words can ever express.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

It was summertime in northern Michigan

Just got back from a relaxing, take-you-back-in-time trip to northern Michigan. Of late, I keep bombarding my posts with pictures, but they truly say it best:

Day 1: Cemetery and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


part way up the dune climb

dune drive overlook spot

We may actually have some photos for the family Christmas card this year!

sunset over Lake Michigan

a little Michigan sand art

Day 2: Suttons Bay, Northport, Leelenau, and Charlevoix

selfie in front of my grandma's high school

gelato - always a delicious option

putting our feet in Suttons Bay

Cherry Republic!

sunset in Charlevoix

Day 3: Mackinac Island and Petoskey

ferry ride to Mackinac

The Grand Hotel

It probably was actually the best ice cream - delicious!

on our way to Arch Rock overlook

Arch Rock - awesome from both sides


stations of the cross at St. Anne's church

downtown Mackinac: cars prohibited, bikes optional

when on the island, fudge is a must!

ferry ride back


more family selfies

Day 4: Visiting with friends from church back home in FL and...wait for it...BENNIGAN'S!

A vacation in a vacation - pretty great if you ask me. Before the craziness and busyness of the new school year starts up, a break was necessary. Breathe in...breathe out...

For all of you wonderful teachers out there, happy back to school time! For those still on vacation, enjoy it while it lasts!